McLaren CEO Zak Brown was asked about the future of Daniel Ricciardo at the team beyond his current deal, and he said there’s “no rush” to decide yet, though talks will begin within the team later in the year.
Ricciardo is contracted to the team to the end of 2023, and Brown explained that the team will think in advance about their next move beyond that date.
IndyCar drivers Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta both have deals with the team, with O’Ward having completed the young driver test at Abu Dhabi last season, and Herta due to complete a test run with McLaren later this year.
The McLaren CEO was quick to praise his current driver for how he has gone about his business so far this year though, saying the improvement in him compared to last year is clear to see.
“Yeah, I think for sure,” Brown told the F1 Nation podcast when asked if the Australian is more comfortable with the team this season.
“His race days have been very strong, much better in qualifying. Listening to him earlier this week with the team, I think he still doesn’t feel he’s 10 out of 10 on top of the car, but he has got a great relationship with Lando [Norris], he knows the team well.
“It was great he was able to go back to Australia for the first time in a couple of years and recharge the batteries and see the family, so we’re really happy to see Daniel on top of his game.”
But talks surrounding the Australian’s contract will eventually start, and Brown said he and the team will be ahead of the game in assessing their options – including both IndyCar drivers – but they are not forcing themselves to make a decision at this point.
“Probably later this year,” Brown confirmed of the future discussions around Ricciardo. “We have another year together, we do like to think long out, hence doing some testing with Pato, we’re going to do some testing with Colton, we’ve got Ugo in Formula 4, who put it on pole at his first race.
“So I don’t think you can ever plan too early, but there’s no rush.”